Sunday, August 31, 2008

Packing and Unpacking

The packing was the hardest thing to do in preparation for the show. It required creativity, lots of math skills and stamina. Unfortunately there isn't an Artists' Depot where you can go and pick up packing materials for your artwork. There are services you can hire (Artex, Artpack), though. They will come, pack it, transport it and deliver it safely, for the price of a week in Sedona.

Some folks rely on UPS stores to provide them with hard-to-find boxes, and if they're in a pinch, the packing itself. Others go to places like Office Depot and Staples, where you won't find cheap or unusual boxes, but you can find packing tape, markers and wrapping foam. If you're a purist, there are a couple of companies (Ashley Distributors, Navis) who will sell you small amounts of museum-quality packing supplies for museum prices. I decided I would buy these materials from Uline since I was in it for the long haul, and I am already paying for storage. Prices are much better, but everything has to be bought in bulk. Because of this, many supplies have to be shipped by truck and this is more expensive. However, I have saved a lot of time with boxes that have the dimensions I need, and I can get ethafoam's cheaper cousin, plank foam, in many forms. Don't buy packing tape from them though, because you'll be buying a minimum of a hundred or so rolls and they do have a shelf life. Uline also makes crates in standard sizes and they do take orders for custom dimensions. I will always prefer making my own crates, but if you're in a time crunch, it's nice to know you can order them. One last thing about Uline: They make these neat shipping labels that you just slap on the box and can be reused. I use them to identify the artwork in each box. The alternative is too time consuming.

The whole thing took us three days. The first day was for creating the labels and assembling all of the materials together in one area. Each label included the packing and unpacking instructions, because the paintings will be going to other exhibits later on.

The second day was spent assembling the boxes and placing the paintings inside. This meant that the inside of the boxes had to be padded with plank foam. The plank foam came in 4 x 4" cubes with adhesive on one side, and I had to find a way to place them in a cost-effective way. I placed corner protectors on the framed paintings, wrapped them in craft paper, tied the package with string and labeled the wrapping.

The third day was spent transporting the paintings across the Oakland bridge in my Toyota truck. Sarah and I had to move the boxes from my studio to my truck, and lash all eight boxes together in a wind-resistant way. To give you an idea, I used a mattress box to fit the two largest paintings. Some of the boxes were telescopic and this meant they weren't closed in a traditional way. We were always concerned that the wind could lift the top of those boxes, but fortunately that didn't happen. Upon arrival, I pulled out my hand truck to move the boxes from the truck to the second floor of the building, where the gallery was located. Because the hand truck was brought in the same truck, I was careful to bring a hand truck not heavier than fifty pounds, the maximum weight I can handle. Good thing my puppy is about the same weight, I already had practice!

Needless to say, after such a weekend, I was exhausted and came to realize why packing services charge what they do. Even I could have used a week in Sedona after my packing adventure.

No comments: